10 FitnessTips After 50 Years: Will They Work for You?

Was “keeping my moving parts moveable” setting my fitness bar low?

At 13 I didn’t start exercising to get skinny or to look good. I was a slim, active kid when I first started exercising and reading food labels. I wanted to do what was within my personal power to be healthy.

Now, over 50 years down the road, I greatly appreciate what my fitness habits have done for my appearance.

I never cared about being an athletic champion. I realized that greatness wouldn’t come from moderation. Still today I choose moderation because it’s a healthy choice.

At 13, my exercise routine included arm circles, side bends, push-ups, and leg-lifts. A few years later I added jogging. Many years later I added strength training.

My exercise choices couldn’t be dependent upon anyone or anything- like transportation, money, or a babysitter. Eventually, as a busy mother of four, I needed something I could do at home.

A friend taught me about jogging in 1967- a time in history when a market for running shoes didn’t yet exist. In 1967 only two companies made running shoes- but only for men, unless by special order and at great expense.

The perimeter of the parking lot across the street from my freshman year dorm served as my track. Shin splints and blisters were part of my life. After 2 years of jogging daily I finally purchased a pair of (men’s) shoes, despite the fact that the smallest shoe available was a size and a half too large for me.

Fast forward to today. I’m 64. Strength training has kept my body exceptionally youthful. I’ve not experienced middle-age weight gain or a metabolism slowdown.

I eat whenever and whatever I want- but I’ve conditioned myself (through self-talk) not to want what I shouldn’t eat.

Yes. Sometimes I eat bad food, but mostly I stay off the slippery slope. I follow a 90/10 rule for best food choices vs. not good food choices.

I do splits at the end of my strength workout. I’m proof that stiffness doesn’t automatically accompany aging. It results from non-use. You can rid your body of stiffness.

Stretching exercise often leads people toward injury. But carefully incorporating limbering exercises into my strength workouts is something I’ve always done. For example, after doing leg extensions I do stretching/limbering movements because my leg muscles crave it. I never limber up or stretch cold muscles.

After more than 50 years of working out I know that fitness is an ever-growing consciousness, a process one can get better at.

You may find these ideas interesting or helpful:

1. Good habits push bad habits out of your life.
2. Taste for workout intensity changes: too much intensity is a fitness habit killer.
3. Positive self-talk is life changing.
4. Exercise more days than not.
5. Make exercise an effort, never a strain.
6. Moderation combined with consistency is a formula for longevity and fitness success.
7. View grocery shopping as an opportunity to choose good health- not a mundane task.
8. Always read a food label if there is one and avoid laboratory-created foods.
9. Fresh means “ripe off the vine” rather than merely “not spoiled.”
10. Choose organic foods whenever possible.

Exercise and eating well are to good health what love is to marriage: you can’t have one without the other.

“A lifelong fitness habit is a truly priceless gift you give yourself,” says Frankie O’Brien.

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